|Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M|
I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
|Barked: Fri Nov 30, '12 4:34pm PST |
|I am presenting this thread to debate ecollars intelligently. I am sure there will be passion, but hopefully, with what I am about to present, that which speaks from an informed viewpoint, i.e., that we do so understanding how they work, what applications they have, etc. Stressing here that I am not presenting myself as an expert. I do not use ecollars. I am not ecollar experienced. I am, however, aware of their use and why they work. Sometimes on Dogster, they get brought up and I am very aware of the misconceptions or misrepresentations. Some of which include ecollars being the choice for very "corrections happy" people, that ecollars "train through pain," and so on.
I used to be one of those people, so these points are easy to understand. But I also USED to be one of those people, and thereby equally know that sometimes enlightenment can go a long way. It hasn't changed my mind regarding my personal choices, but it has changed my willingness to consider their use by others. I have invited onto this thread someone who is an expert in their use to address any questions. He is a mentor to many, and extremely well known in the SAR community.
I came to learn that quite a few people I train with and who I would have thought....had I hazarded a guess....would have stayed far from them, use them. A surprise to say the least, and a dose of reality. Ecollars play a significant role not only in bite sports (which I knew) and field work (which I knew), but in fields such as SAR and OB. The latter I knew, but assumed there were ecollar people and non ecollar people, as opposed to those who train positively, with selective use of this training tool. Indeed, what I have found is that ecollars are often popular with those who want to go straight PR....yes, even with clickers....and refer to ecollars for corrections.
One thing I came to learn is that contemporary ecollar training is different. There are a myriad of settings. The higher ones are a concern, but contemporary ecollar training seldom refers to these. There is something called a "test for level," which is where the ecollar is placed on the dog, and settings are incrementally graduated. At first, there is no response at all. But somewhere in the sequence, the level is found, where the dog shows that first, subtle recognition. Normally, this recognition is the dog sniffing on the ground. Not frantically, just that moment you can see him say "hmmm, what was that?" This is a test for level. You can judge if you feel this is a calming signal or the former explanation. Before making that call, THIS is a group of children articulating what they feel. I would like to add in the world of punishers, nowhere can you test a dog's responses to a potential correction and assess your dog's response, see if you are comfortable with it, without jeopardizing the dog's sense of trust towards you, for he is not associating you with the stim. The pager function, a Dogster friend has told me, also is an option. Nowhere, too, in the world of punishers, can you have the punisher held safe from your emotion of the moment. It is here ecollars have particular interest to me, as something unique and in parts potentially safer.
Another way ecollar use has changed is that for many who use it, it is not used as a punisher for something incorrect, but in an avoidance approach against *doing* something incorrect. This, to me (and by me), has been grossly misunderstood. You do not zap a dog for doing something wrong. On commands or actions the dog knows, he will learn he can shut the low stim off by doing something different. This is called "escape training," where the dog learns by responding, he can shut the stim off. In time, this becomes "avoidance training," whereby the dog learns he can avoid stim entirely by his own actions. This is of course conducive towards having a dog who is very commands responsive and is extremely good for speed also as the dog is trying to control the stim.
Beyond this, there are life saving methods towards which the ecollar is employed. One of these is for things such as snake proofing for pets, or for hunters putting on a very sound recall. We have a Dogster here who now uses ecollars for such measures after having her beloved dog die in her arms, and as such is now adamant about this sort of proofing. Hopefully, she can offer her experiences. This is equally why ecollars are quite prevalent in SAR, where the dog is working in very risky settings, making compliance to the handler's commands much a matter of personal safety. I will add the ethical challenge I received, from SAR people, who train quite positively, that the issue isn't what they prefer but what works to the most reliable result given to the seriousness of the potential fallouts.
Ecollars also are used in life saving behavioral situations where truly ONLY the ecollar will do. I am presenting one such case for your review here, which in its total presentation should be quite informative. This is a case of a shelter dog with high aggression destined for the euth list. On Friday. There was only a four day period to reverse his fate. FOUR days. You will note in this study several things. First and foremostly, the narrator, who was the one determined to try to save this young Lab, is not an ecollar person. He had to that point rehabbed many dogs without the use of force. You will also note that not only was this training successful, but HOW, and perhaps most critically the completeness of rehabilitation in that this dog was adopted out, without the ecollar, and has remained with his adopter now for an extended time.
Ecollar Behavioral Rehab Testimonial....Click REHAB TRAINING on the bottom to see a breakdown of the approach
This I hope will open the door for intelligent conversation. On another thread, it was mentioned that ecollars "train through pain." You may now judge this for yourself, as to how they work and why. Bearing in mind as you do, that there has NEVER been an ecollar study that has evaluated its consequence on anything but HIGH settings, which invalidates such studies as contemporary ecollar training does not approach the use of that tool in such a way. CAN they? Oh surely....the setting is there. But this is preventable by any enlightened dog owner.
As you read and consider this case, an ethical challenge I present to you. Given that no training method beyond this one could have altered such intense behavior in four days time....would he be better off dead?
This is not a thread to recommend the ecollar, but rather one to dissuade those who question the humane or enlightened mindsets of those who use them, who I remind also include the majority of SAR dog trainers as well. Many hunters. Many OB people. Who are well versed in producing a very positive worker.
Edited by author Fri Nov 30, '12 4:41pm PST
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